How to Get Things Done with a Project Management System

How to Get Things Done with a Project Management System

There is SO much to do when you are running an online business right? There is marketing, product launches, website maintenance, book-keeping, social media management, blog writing, replying to emails and enquiries, sales calls, keeping up with paperwork and client notes. And that’s before we even start actually doing any work for or with our clients. Not that I’m complaining – I love my clients 🙂 But the question is – how to get all these things done effectively, without overwhelm and without anything slipping through the cracks? The answer for me was “project management system”.

I might be just a *bit* biased here. After all, being a qualified project manager you would think that I would be using those systems all the time. But I’ve not always been a big fan myself.

When I first started my business back in 2007 it was just me and a few clients. I could keep everything in my head and remember what I needed to do. I had a paper Filofax diary to write down daily tasks and reminders.

Then the automation era came about.

I got myself an online scheduler and an online time tracking tool to work out how long I was spending on all projects I was working for.

Then came sub-contractors and VAs I hired for my business. Suddenly I no longer could just rely on my memory but instead I had to have a system in place that would:

  • keep track of my BIG business goals and what I wanted to achieve in 6 or 12 months time (rather than this or next week),
  • make it easy to break those down into action plans and steps that I could then implement on a daily basis,
  • if I wasn’t implementing those myself – I could quickly assign tasks to other team members,
  • and while they were working on those tasks – we could keep all communication in one place and keep track of what was happening.

And that’s where project management systems become really-really useful.

Naturally being a systems junkie that I am, I’ve tested a good number of different project management systems over the years.

1) Spreadsheet

Yep, as simple as that. You can just start with a spreadsheet and write down all your tasks, what projects they are related to, who’s responsible for them and when they are due. You can add notes as you go along about the progress and any issues. Filtering and sorting features of Excel will act like reporting tools helping you work out what’s due now, what’s coming up, what tasks are yours and what tasks are still open for a particular project.

If it’s just you in the business you can keep the spreadsheet offline on your computer.

If you hire a team or even just a VA to help you out, the spreadsheet can go online as a Google Doc or a SmartSheet (cool and full of features version of Excel).

2) Time tracking / task management system

If you need or want to actually track time you take to complete each task, these systems could be useful. You might need time tracking if you bill clients by the hour, because you want to keep the work close to what you’ve quoted or because you pay your team for the time they work for you.

HarvestApp has a browser widget that allows you to easily start time tracking without even using their website. You can then run a report on hours spent and convert it into an invoice to send to your clients. Harvest also integrates with Xero (my fave accounting tool) so you can keep all your book-keeping in one place. However if your workload is quite varied and deadline driven, most likely you will need an extra project management system to keep overall control of projects and deadlines.

  • Integrated with many other web apps: Xero, Asana, Basecamp, Trello, QuickBooks
  • Time tracking and time reporting
  • Team management, task allocation and commenting/collaboration
  • Report conversion into invoices
  • Basic project management for groups of tasks
  • Web and desktop apps for time tracking
  • Timesheets (manual time entry)
  • Stripe and PayPal integration for clients to pay your invoices
  • Reporting at-a-glance dashboard
  • Pricing from $12/month

PaymoApp is what I used before Harvest. It also had a widget app you could install on your computer and even phone, you could assign tasks to team members and create invoices based on time used. One of the reasons we switched is because we changed our project management system to Asana – and Asana integrates with Harvest!

  • Time tracking and time reporting
  • Team management, task allocation and commeting/collaboration
  • File storage
  • Report conversion into invoices
  • Basic project management for groups of tasks
  • Web and desktop apps for time tracking
  • Timesheets (manual time entry)
  • Stripe and PayPal integration for clients to pay your invoices
  • Reporting at-a-glance dashboard
  • Pricing $4.95/user/month

3) Project management system

Full project management systems are good at keeping track of a multitude of projects happening in your business (marketing, product launches, events, conferences) and projects you work on for clients (or coaching packages).

However usually they don’t have time tracking included so you would probably need a system like that too if time tracking is important to you.

Redbooth (Teambox) is a straight-forward and reliable project management system and a business collaboration solution. It has integrated team chat and video chat, you can create and manage projects and resources, break project down into tasks and allocate those to team members. It’s pretty much like the task management systems above, but with better project management element at the expense of time tracking.

Basecamp is a popular project management system and is very powerful if you are working with a team. Again projects can be broken down into task lists and tasks, it has file storage, team management, collaboration and discussion tools, and reporting for projects. I found it takes me slightly longer to get stuff done because when switching between tasks and projects takes a longer time to reload pages compared to Asana or Redbooth. However for a large complex project management system, with many team members and varying permissions, it’s pretty much an industry standard now.

Asana is what we use now to keep the whole team on track. With several business identities and a variety of marketing activities happening each week it’s crucial to our success! Asana is very quick to load information and switch between views and pages. It’s easy to get started and is quite intuitive. It also allows you to have multiple projects and multiple teams, task lists and tasks. Tasks can be allocated to team members, who can leave comments and attach files. There is basic reporting included to keep track of project status. And I love the calendar view and recurring task templates for those activities that I do each week (like writing blog posts, sending newsletters, posting themed comments in my Facebook groups).

Bonus tip

Watch the video below on my top tips for delegating work to the team and getting started with project management in your business – to make the process a lot smoother!

Over to you…

As always, there isn’t a right or wrong system out there. Some will be a great fit for you, some won’t. It depends on your business model, requirements and budget.

If you are already using a project management system in your business – let me know which one and what you love about it.

And if you have any questions about making the choice after reading this post, feel free to comment below or get in touch with me personally 🙂

Don’t forget to share this post with your friends on social media and sign up for the email updates and insights below!

Thanks for reading x

 

  • Loya Anderson

    Nice Topic. For managing all the projects in time an effective software is required. I selected Apptivo for my business it’s good. Article is informative.

  • Sharon Thomson

    These are some fantastic resources! I would also suggest ProofHub for project management and time tracking. ProofHub provides your team the right tools to plan ahead. With this you can define goals, share ideas and develop strategies to get the best out of your team.